Irwin Cotler, Simon Fodden winners of 2014 CBA President’s Award

  • August 13, 2014

St. John's — The Hon. Irwin Cotler of Montreal and Simon Fodden of Toronto, creator of the blog Slaw, are the recipients of the Canadian Bar Association’s (CBA) 2014 President’s Award.

The award recognizes the significant contribution of Canadian jurists to the legal profession, the CBA, or the public life of Canada.

“As a teacher, practitioner and lawmaker, Irwin Cotler has made significant contributions to how lawyers view law, how law can be used as a vehicle for social change and how our laws can be improved,” says CBA President Fred Headon of Montreal in making the announcement.

“Over the course of a long career, the effects of his contributions can be seen close to home in the law offices of the students he taught, and as far away as the halls of the United Nations and South Africa. As Irwin Cotler moves towards retirement, it is fitting to acknowledge these contributions.”

Simon Fodden founded in 2005, a blog that is considered by many to be a foremost source of legal information and discussion in Canada.

“As we debated and analyzed the future of law, and in particular our CBA Legal Futures Initiative, Simon Fodden has helped guide our thinking," says Headon.

“Not content to just retire after a long and distinguished academic career, he showed us how to innovate. Slaw has had a significant impact on the profession, serving as a forum to exchange ideas and to encourage change."

“It is now used as a forum for the discussion of law, and is an example of how new technology can help the profession.”

Professor Emeritus at the Osgoode Hall Law School, York University, Simon Fodden taught family law and property law for over 30 years. He has written and lectured extensively in these areas. He is also the author of two novels.

He obtained his B.A. from Princeton University and his LL.B. degree from Osgoode Hall Law School. Simon Fodden helped found Osgoode’s intensive program in poverty law at Parkdale Community Legal Services, Ontario’s first legal clinic, and later was academic director there for two years. He also started Osgoode’s intensive program in family law. He retired as publisher of Slaw in May of this year.

Member of Parliament for the Montreal riding of Mount Royal, Irwin Cotler has worn many hats over the course of his career. He has been a law professor, a constitutional and comparative law scholar, an international human rights lawyer, counsel to prisoners of conscience, the head of an NGO, a public intellectual and a peace activist.

An MP since 1999, he served in the federal cabinet from 2003 to 2006 as Minister of Justice and Attorney General of Canada. He made the pursuit of international justice a priority and initiated the first-ever prosecution under the Canadian War Crimes and Crimes against Humanity Act for incitement to genocide in Rwanda.

As the current Liberal party critic for rights and freedoms, he is active in and out of Parliament for human rights. In all of these roles, he has been at the forefront of the struggle for justice, peace and human rights.

The President’s Award takes the form of an engraved brass Scales of Justice.  The award will be presented at the President’s dinner, on Wednesday, August 13 during the 2014 CBA Legal Conference taking place in St. John’s August 14-17.  The conference is open to accredited media. Please contact Hannah Bernstein at for accreditation.

The CBA is dedicated to supporting the rule of law, improvements in the law, and the administration of justice. Some 37,500 lawyers, law teachers, and law students from across Canada are members.